A Black Forest native and senior at the Air Force Academy has been selected to receive the Gen. John K. Gerhart Fellowship, which will allow her to study a field related to culture and human relations in France after she graduates from the Academy in May.
Cadet 1st Class Liana Gaudreault, a biology major, said she hopes to study anthropology at the University of Strasbourg New Sorbonne University in Paris.
“I'm looking at ideas and topics,” Gaudreault said. “My initial thought is studying how cultures have evolved with respect to food and health from a nutritionist's point of view. I want to look at cultural influences and genetics, which plays into my biology background, and how diet fits into fitness and body types.”
Gaudreault said she came to the Academy in part because her older sister, Marie, who graduated in 2011, and because she wanted to serve her nation. The Academy was also a good neutral choice for Gaudreault, whose relatives wanted her to attend schools geographically close to them.
“A lot of my family on my mom's side wanted me to go to school in California because then I'd be close to them,” she said. “And a lot of people on my dad's side wanted me to go to school in Louisiana. The Air Force Academy was the only choice that was just for me.”
She said she plans to travel a lot while she studies and experience French culture.
“I would like to experiment with French cooking, travel and see historical sites and visit Normandy again,” she said. “There's so much history over there.”
However, Gaudreault, a Pine Creek High School graduate, said she still has some tasks to accomplish before she can book her flight, such as getting an official passport and visa, completing the steps required for her to graduate from the Academy and taking a French language assessment.
“Right now, I'm just trying to get my application packet together, take the test and hope it goes well,” she said. “I'm still stepping my way through the process. It's hard for me to believe it's going to happen.”
The Gerhart Fellowship is named for Gen. John K. Gerhart, who flew with 8th Air Force during World War II, receiving Croix de Guerre medals with palm devices from the French and Belgian governments for his service. He returned to Europe in 1946 as an air adviser to the American delegation participating along with the Allies in drafting the Balkan and Italian peace treaties, according to his official biography.
The Gerhart Fellowship was initially set up for cadets to study political science or humanities at La Sorbonne in Paris Sarbonne University. It was later expanded to allow cadets to study at any French college as long as the study is related to cultural or human relations.